dy·nas·ty | \ ˈdī-nə-stē also -ˌnas-tē , especially British ˈdi-nə-stē \
plural dynasties

Definition of dynasty 

1 : a succession of rulers of the same line of descent (see descent sense 1a) a dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years

2 : a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time born into a powerful political dynasty a baseball dynasty

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Other words from dynasty

dynastic \dī-ˈnas-tik \ adjective
dynastically \-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Sports dynasties

Dynasty has been in use in English for over 600 years, for most of that time referring to a ruling family that maintains power through succession. Around the beginning of the 19th century, the word developed the figurative sense “a group or family that dominates a particular field for generations.” Nowadays, this sense of dynasty is often applied to a sports franchise which has a prolonged run of successful seasons. The sports use appears to have begun in the early 20th century. An article in The Washington Post in 1905 refers to “John T. Brush’s baseball dynasty,” and by 1912 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that “if players were free agents at the end of every two years, baseball dynasties such as those built up by the Cubs, Athletics, Detroits and Giants would not be possible.”

dynasty Has Greek Roots

Dynast and dynasty both descend from the Greek verb dynasthai, which means "to be able" or "to have power." Dynasty came to prominence in English first; it has been part of our language since at least the 14th century. Dynast took its place in the linguistic family line in the early 1600s, and it has been used to describe sovereigns and other rulers ever since.

Examples of dynasty in a Sentence

a dynasty that ruled China for nearly 300 years There was a civil war during the dynasty. She was born into a powerful political dynasty.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The trial of Sharif and his 44-year-old daughter was an outgrowth of the original corruption case related to the financing of apartments in London and other overseas properties owned by members of the family, one of Pakistan’s political dynasties. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Pakistan court convicts former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in corruption case," 6 July 2018 Cover-Up is a captivating, thought-provoking series that involves key figures from Camelot to Watergate, creating a compelling narrative that centers around the Kennedys, America’s most storied political dynasty. Tierney Mcafee, PEOPLE.com, "The Scandal That Scarred the Kennedys: How to Listen to PEOPLE's First Podcast, Cover-Up," 31 May 2018 Former Brookings Institution fixture and scholar of the presidency Stephen Hess once penned a point system for ranking political dynasties based on their accumulation of high-level posts (for the record, the Kennedys ranked first). Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "America’s Congressional ‘Royals’," 19 May 2018 When the Sandinistas toppled the Somoza family political dynasty that ruled Nicaragua for more than four decades, Ortega became president. Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "In Nicaragua, the political battle is moving from the streets to the negotiating table," 5 May 2018 That was the moment when Charlemagne, the leader of the rising Carolingian dynasty, received the blessing of Pope Leo III for bringing together the whole of the continent, from the Atlantic to the Danube and from Italy to the North Sea. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Charlemagne to the Rescue," 22 June 2018 The engine of the NBA’s first true dynasty of this decade, Stephen Curry, has yet to win a Finals MVP award. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "For the Third Time in Three Titles, Stephen Curry’s Greatness Goes Unrecognized," 9 June 2018 The one-in-a-million chance is the hope that, in its third generation, the Kim dynasty has decided its future depends not on being able to incinerate Seoul and Los Angeles but on being part of the world economy. The Economist, "How to denuclearise North Korea," 5 July 2018 He was hosted by Crown Prince Hussein, 23, a member of the Hashemite dynasty Britain helped install in then-Transjordan almost a century ago. Aron Heller, BostonGlobe.com, "Prince William to meet Israeli leaders on historic royal visit," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dynasty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dynasty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dynasty

see dynast

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for dynasty

The first known use of dynasty was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of dynasty

: a family of rulers who rule over a country for a long period of time; also : the period of time when a particular dynasty is in power

: a family, team, etc., that is very powerful or successful for a long period of time


dy·nas·ty | \ ˈdī-nə-stē \
plural dynasties

Kids Definition of dynasty

: a series of rulers of the same family

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More from Merriam-Webster on dynasty

Spanish Central: Translation of dynasty

Nglish: Translation of dynasty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dynasty for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dynasty

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